Scheme to label products from illegal settlements a flop

Supermarkets don’t take up offer to label products made in illegal Israeli settlements, saying that they don’t sell the products in the first place

No supermarket chains have decided to label products made in illegal Israeli settlements in the West Bank, according to the news website Arbejderen.

Last year, Foreign Minister Villy Søvndal (Socialistisk Folkeparti) introduced a voluntary labelling initiative that was also launched in other EU countries, including the UK.

But a survey carried out by Arbejderen discovered that major supermarkets – including Netto, Fakta, Brugsen, Kvickly, Superbest, Lidl – have all decided not to carry the labelling.

READ MORE: Products from Israeli settlements should be labelled, Søvndal says

Giving consumers choice
At the time, Søvndal said that the labelling would have an impact on which products are imported.

“This is a step that clearly shows consumers that the products are produced under conditions that not only the Danish government, but also European governments, do not approve of,” Søvndal told Politiken newspaper in May. “It will then be up to consumers whether they choose to buy the products or not.”

Several of the leading supermarket chains told Arbejderen that there was no need to introduce the labelling because they do not accept products from suppliers that were made in illegal settlements.


Political stunt
Among them is Coop Danmark – which owns the supermarket chains SuperBrugsen, Dagli’Brugsen, Irma, Fakta and Kvickly. The company's corporate social responsibility consultant, Brian Sønderby Sundstrup, said the labelling initiative served them no purpose.

“We at Coop regard Villy Søvndal’s voluntary labelling scheme as a political stunt that is more troublesome than it is useful,” Sundstrup said. “We doubt that producers will voluntarily put a sticker on their products that show that their products come from an occupied area of land and whose production violates international human rights and law.”

Sundstrup added that they did not sell products from illegal settlements and that labelling these products would not make them more legal.

READ MORE: Foreign minister offers full diplomatic status to Palestinian Mission

Søvndal told Arbjederen that he wasn’t surprised that supermarkets had chosen not to follow the voluntary labelling scheme, which was introduced to raise awareness about the issue of illegal Israeli settlements.

“It’s up to consumers and NGOs to take up the dialogue with the chains and encourage them to use the scheme,” Søvndal said.